By late 1997, Rick’s Cabaret gave this young chef a chance. Looking back, it makes Cameron chuckle yet he still stands behind the “very talented chef” he worked under for two years. “I had to go back five or six times before they finally hired me; I didn’t even know what a whisk was at the time,” he said while still chuckling.
Cameron worked under several well-known chefs in Texas, but always made time to visit family in Arkansas. He eventually made the move, “I was ready for change and to get out of the big city, so here I am.”
Yaya’s Euro Bistro is where Cameron landed as executive chef in 2011. He had left his resume there while on a visit, and several months later got the call and moved to the Natural State.
A supporter of nonprofits, Cameron competed in Pulaski Tech’s Diamond Chef Arkansas in 2012 and 2016. If you have never been to Diamond Chef, definitely try to go to next year’s competition– I never miss it, it’s one of my favorite events!
By 2014 he started a high-end catering company out of Bryant, Bistro Catering & Gourmet Take Away, but about six months ago his path changed again. Cameron and his wife, Crystal Dear, stumbled upon an opportunity. The owners of Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant and Bar offered Cameron the executive chef position and Dear became general manager. “It took us about 24 hours to decide,” she said.
Allsopp & Chapple’s rich history drew this duo to join the team and they want to keep its history alive. If you haven’t heard – this place was a book store for six decades. The current cocktail menu is a play on books with creations called Catcher in the Rye and The Scarlet Letter.
With more than two decades of experience, Cameron puts his own spin on the food. Chef has been focusing on seafood, but always leaves room on his menu for game. From New Zealand lamb lollipops to venison chops, whatever is available at the best quality is what Cameron seeks from his suppliers.
“I like to try to bring something a little different that nobody else is really doing around here”, he said. Cameron added that getting to know his guests is equally as important as the dishes he creates.
“We are just trying to keep evolving, stay with the trends. We want people to come in and have an experience and see the history of the building, the beautiful pictures”, Cameron explained.
Evolving is important to this chef, and that sometimes means adapting to social media trends or fads. “You just have to, people change, people eat differently…we never say no, we will do the best we can.”
As this restaurant continues to grow, this couple hopes to make it a staple and go-to spot for locals with a simple motto, yet easily forgotten by some establishments; “To please our guests.”
Check out Cameron’s cuisine at Allsopp & Chapple located in downtown Little Rock at 311 Main Street. It’s open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm and dinner starting at 5 pm, dinner is also served on Saturdays. I haven’t had the chance to stop by for the once a month brunch, but I hear the “all-you-care-to-eat” buffet is really good – next one is scheduled for Father’s Day.